Pontus Jansson has told The Sun what Marcelo Bielsa said to him after Leeds United’s controversial draw with Aston Villa at Elland Road last season following Jansson’s attempt to deny Villa an uncontested equaliser.
Leeds took the lead in controversial circumstances. The Whites continued playing while Jonathan Kodjia was down injured and Mateusz Klich ultimately found the back of the net.
Villa were enraged. They had put the ball out for Adam Forshaw earlier in the second-half. And Tyler Roberts had arguably not helped the situation by playing Klich in after slowing play right down and seemingly leaving Villa’s players convinced that he was about to kick the ball out.
Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of clashes on and off the pitch. And ultimately, Bielsa instructed his players to let Villa run through and level the scores immediately.
While the majority of the Leeds squad followed Bielsa’s orders, Jansson made some attempt to stop Albert Adomah.
With Jansson leaving Leeds in the summer after not playing the second-leg of the play-off semi-final, some on the outside have gone back to the incident against Villa and speculated whether the centre-back’s actions highlighted potential problems between Bielsa and the Swede.
However, after sharing what Bielsa told him after the game, it appears that the Leeds boss was a lot more understanding of the defender’s actions than many would have perhaps expected.
‘I totally understand’
“I don’t know what I would do now,” he told The Sun. “If the game meant something, I would 100 percent just kick the ball away. Now the game didn’t mean anything so I would just maybe let them score. But the thing was it was bigger in the media and in social media than in our dressing room.
“Marcelo came to me and said, ‘I totally understand what you did, I would maybe do the same, but maybe try to listen to the coach next time’.
“No, he wasn’t [angry]. Maybe a little bit. You never know with him. But he said, ‘yeah I understand, but you should listen to your coach’. But when you’re on the pitch and the coach doesn’t even talk your language, sometimes it’s not easy to understand what’s being said.”
In fairness to Jansson, the fact that he is still wrestling with whether he made the right decision highlights how unfair it would be to be overly critical of his actions that day.
As he admits, he probably made the wrong call in that situation. But it is telling that Bielsa was apparently able to empathise with his frustrations.
It was not an incident that cost Leeds promotion. And perhaps Jansson’s comments suggest that his actions actually contributed little towards the decision to sell the defender in the summer.